Galapagos, Pharnext join forces to develop drug combos

Research
Pharnext will apply its combination-discovery platform to Galapagos' programs

Galapagos and Pharnext have teamed up to develop drug combinations. The European biotechs plan to use Pharnext’s platform for identifying effective low-dose combinations of approved drugs to boost the efficacy of Galapagos’ pipeline prospects.

Pharnext, a French biotech, has mainly used the platform so far to single out combinations of already-approved drugs that work well together. This approach spawned two clinical-stage assets, a phase 3 program targeting Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and a combination of muscle relaxant baclofen and anti-alcohol agent acamprosate that is set to enter a phase 2b in Alzheimer’s disease patients later this year.

Now, Pharnext has gained a chance to use its platform in a different context. Galapagos will share its preclinical and clinical-stage assets with Pharnext and ask its new partner to look for approved drugs that complement its experimental candidates. The goal is to identify drugs that, when given in low doses alongside a pipeline prospect, safely boost the efficacy of the experimental asset.

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The R&D pact is particularly interested in finding combinations against immunoinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders—areas that overlap with Galapagos’ current pipeline—but Pharnext also has free rein to identify new indications for its partner’s programs. Pharnext sees expansion into new therapeutic areas and generation of additional patents as two ways the alliance will boost the value of Galapagos’ programs.

Galapagos and Pharnext will split intellectual property on synergistic drug combinations down the middle. And each has priority on certain, previously allocated indications. Pharnext expects the arrangement to expand its pipeline.

“At Pharnext we have demonstrated that deeper understanding of genetics and molecular networks that underpin pathologies is key to drug discovery. The R&D collaboration with Galapagos validates the value of Pharnext’s innovative platform,” Pharnext CEO Daniel Cohen M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement. “Moreover, this collaboration will enlarge our product portfolio with drug combinations including also new compounds.”

The plan is underpinned by an approach that starts with the creation of an inventory of therapeutic targets relevant to a disease. Pharnext then whittles down the list of possible drug combinations through in silico, in vitro and in vivo tests to arrive at a one-two punch suitable for testing in humans.